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Strategic Plan Update

In case you were not able to attend today’s Faculty/Staff meeting, I want to share the gist of my remarks. Today, we are pleased to announce the four pillars of the University’s new strategic plan.

These four pillars, or goals, are as follows:

  • To provide a premier undergraduate and graduate education that offers a global perspective and is characterized by outstanding teaching, high-quality scholarship and distinctive curricular and co-curricular programs.
  • To increase the University’s productivity and innovation in research, scholarship and creative activities that impact socio-economic development.
  • To enrich the learning and work environment by providing an accepting, inclusive community that attracts and supports a diverse faculty, staff and student body.
  • To provide opportunities and resources that promote work-life balance and enhance the recruitment and retention of outstanding faculty and staff.

The University’s mission and vision will remain the same, but how we achieve that mission and vision will change as it is captured through the goals of our faculty, students and staff. These goals will move us in the direction of where we aspire to be.

Many voices were heard throughout our strategic planning process. We received input from students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, retirees and community members. This is everyone’s plan. We are all the University, and we are grateful for the valuable ideas and insights that all of these groups and individuals provided to us.

In particular, I want to thank our Strategic Planning Council, which has been led by Interim Provost Kevin Whitaker. They have been working since December.

Milla Boschung Dean Human Environmental Sciences
Jennifer Clark Past-president Professional Staff Assembly
Lynda Gilbert Vice President Financial Affairs and
Treasurer for The University of Alabama
Todd Hester Past-president Office, Clerical, & Technical Staff Assembly
Peter Hlebowitsh Dean College of Education
Burcu Keskin Assoc. Professor Information Systems, Statistics, and Management
Systems (C&BA)
Michael Kreger Professor Civil, Construction, & Environmental Engineering
John Lochman Professor Psychology
Donna Meester President Faculty Senate
Rosalind Moore Director Undergraduate & Graduate Student Involvement
Carl Pinkert Vice President Research and Economic Development
Samory Pruitt Vice President Community Affairs
Marie Robbins Assoc. Athletics Dir. Intercollegiate Athletics
Elliot Spillers Past-president Student Government Association

I hope you’ll join me in thanking them for their dedication and the countless hours they have spent on this important endeavor. Their work will now center on the next phase, which is discussing the objectives for each pillar before we roll out the full plan this fall.

We have much more work to do in the coming months, but we are well on our way. Thank you for your participation, and Roll Tide!

Stuart R. Bell

Middle of spring semester update

I hope you are having a great spring semester at the Capstone. I’ve just returned from a visit to the White House with our national championship football team, and it reminded me of all the recent successes on our campus.

Congratulations to the newly elected SGA officers, who will be led by Lillian Roth, a political science major from Montgomery. Lillian’s executive team includes students not only from Alabama, but also from Illinois, New Jersey, Missouri and Wisconsin. I know we all look forward to working with them in the coming year.

Just two weeks ago, the UA Adapted Athletics Program was the recipient of a generous contribution pledged from alumni Michael and Kathy Mouron. The Mouron’s $3 million gift will help build a world-class training facility and competition venue for the more than 100 students who participate in competitive and noncompetitive sports each year. As part of this celebration, I was honored to present the women’s wheelchair basketball team with their national championship rings.

On Feb. 19, the new Sewell-Thomas Stadium, one of the premier college baseball facilities in the nation, opened to a sell-out crowd. I hope you’ll find time to come out and enjoy a ballgame this spring.

Also last month, The University of Alabama was recognized by the Chronicle of Higher Education as a top producing institution for student Fulbright awards with 11 of 30 UA applicants having received the award during 2015–2016. This highly competitive program gives grants to just 1,500 students each year for independent study, research projects and English teaching assistantships overseas. Please join me in congratulating all of them.

Dr. Angelica Almeyda Zambrano and Dr. Eben Broadbent, both in the UA Geography Department, co-authored research that was published recently in an online edition of Nature, the world’s most highly cited interdisciplinary scientific journal. Nature publishes only 8 percent of research papers submitted due to rigorous selection criteria.

Looking ahead, we will recognize many on our campus during Honors Week, April 4-8. I commend them for their commitment to excellence, and I look forward to speaking with them at various events that week. Among the honors to be publicly presented that week are the Premier Awards, the University’s top individual honors for scholarship, leadership and service. Honored at the recent Premier Awards dinner were students Mackenzie Ross, Mary Lieb, Rachel Ramey, Shuwen Yue, Derek Carter and Katie Plott, and faculty Dr. Marilyn Whitman and Dr. A.J. (Lonnie) Strickland.

Also, our strategic plan continues to take shape, and I appreciate those of you who gave voice to your thoughts at listening sessions, via email and through the online survey. Our Strategic Planning Council and its subcommittees have been working diligently to produce a plan, which will guide our university in the coming years.

Finally, as you head to various destinations or remain in Tuscaloosa for the upcoming holiday break, please remember to get some rest and relaxation, enjoy yourselves and be safe.

Stuart R. Bell

Start of spring semester update

Welcome back to campus! I hope you had a wonderful holiday break and enjoyed spending time with your family and friends. The beginning of the Spring semester is always a good time to build on all the positive things that began in the Fall.

We closed 2015 with a successful United Way campaign. The University of Alabama pledged nearly $398,000. Many thanks to the School of Social Work and the campus coordinating committee for leading our efforts to support United Way of West Alabama’s 26 partner service agencies. These agencies provide a variety of education, income-related, health and emergency response programs to citizens throughout West Alabama.

I know you join me in congratulating the football team for winning its 16th national championship earlier this week. Their victory serves as a great reminder of what teamwork, focus, determination and hard work can accomplish. We’ll be announcing the details of a campus celebration very soon. And, since fan support is a big part of every team’s success, please take some time to support all our athletic teams who are playing this Spring.

As we look toward events and activities in February, the 2016 Alabama legislative session will kick off in early February. Alabama Unites is one of the critical ways that all Alabamians can work together to create future success through new jobs and sustained economic growth. Sign up today and find out how you can get involved in making sure Alabama provides a first-class education system for all students. Please visit to let our elected officials know the importance of adequate funding for education at all levels in our state.

UA has been a founding member of the Realizing the Dream initiative since it began in 1989, and this year’s event promises to be spectacular. Activities include the Legacy Banquet on Friday, Jan. 15, and a concert by award-winning South African artist Jonathan Butler on Sunday, Jan. 17. Tickets for both events are on sale through the Moody Music Building box office. Activities on Unity Day begin with breakfast at 7 a.m., followed by the march at noon and conclude with a rally at 5 p.m. at the First African Baptist Church.  For more information about Realizing the Dream activities, visit

I hope you will remember to participate in UA’s strategic planning process by providing your feedback and input.

We have much to celebrate and much to look forward to this Spring!

Roll Tide!

Stuart R. Bell

End of fall semester update

Dear UA Students, Faculty and Staff:

As the fall semester comes to a close and we prepare to celebrate the joys and blessings of the holiday season with family and friends, I want to tell you how much I appreciate your hard work and dedication. Your tireless efforts allow our students, and the University, to succeed.

In August, we welcomed a record-setting, academically talented freshman class. Throughout the semester, we have also read about the remarkable accomplishments of our faculty and students, all of which add tremendous value to our University.

Next week, we will celebrate commencement, which marks the culmination of years of hard work for our students and the beginning of the rest of their journey. I hope you’ll welcome our visitors, and join me in offering heartfelt congratulations to our graduates as they go into the world prepared to assume leadership roles and successfully compete in a global economy.

To our students, good luck during exam week. And, I wish all of you a happy and safe holiday break.

We’re looking forward to a great 2016!

Stuart R. Bell

Strategic Planning Council announced

As announced in October, I have asked Interim Provost Kevin Whitaker to chair UA’s Strategic Planning Council. This council will focus on areas that are important to our continued success as the state’s flagship and a top-tier national institution. Key focus areas include graduate enrollment growth, faculty growth, diversity, research and facilities.

Since this council needs to represent all the University’s main components, I have asked the following individuals to work with Dr. Whitaker in this process:

  • Milla Boschung, dean, Human Environmental Sciences
  • Jennifer Clark, president, Professional Staff Assembly
  • Lynda Gilbert, vice president, Financial Affairs
  • Todd Hester, president, Office, Clerical and Technical Staff Assembly
  • Peter Hlebowitsh, dean, College of Education
  • Burcu Keskin, associate professor, Operations Management
  • Michael Kreger, professor, Garry Neil Drummond Endowed Chair of Civil Engineering
  • John Lochman, professor, Saxon Chair of Clinical Psychology
  • Donna Meester, president, Faculty Senate
  • Rosalind Moore, director, Undergraduate and Graduate Student Involvement
  • Carl Pinkert, vice president, Research and Economic Development
  • Samory Pruitt, vice president, Community Affairs
  • Marie Robbins, senior associate athletics director/senior woman administrator
  • Elliot Spillers, president, Student Government Association

The council will begin its work on Dec. 9, by developing a timeline and scope of work that will include input from internal and external sources. You will be able to follow the council’s work and provide input through a website that will be launched Dec. 9: The council also will hold listening sessions across campus to capture ideas as a part of the process.

The council will conduct a thorough and comprehensive review of these important aspects and finish their work in the Spring. In the meantime, we will implement their recommendations appropriately as the work proceeds, and we will continue to revise and update the plan as we move boldly forward.

Our overarching goal is to make sure our students are prepared to be successful in a globally connected world. Working together, we will serve them well and fulfill our mission of teaching, research and service.

Stuart R. Bell

Middle of fall semester update

It’s Fall Speed Ahead for UA: An update from President Bell

As we prepare to celebrate a wonderful Homecoming by welcoming our alumni, family and friends back to campus, I wanted to take a few minutes to recognize other good news that’s worth a round of applause.

To begin our new academic year, we announced a record-setting enrollment in mid-September, with a freshman class that includes 174 National Merit and National Achievement Finalists.  More than one-third of our entering freshmen have an ACT of 30 or higher, and more than 2,200 freshmen are enrolled in our Honors College. With a total enrollment of 37,100, UA remains the largest four-year institution in the state, and we continue to enroll the most in-state residents of any Alabama university.

Drawing students to the Capstone from across the nation and globe are our nationally ranked academic programs. Several of our programs have made recent headlines with their success.  In the 2015 Forbes rankings, our MBA at the Manderson Graduate School of Business ranks 25th among similar programs at all public schools in the nation, and fourth in the SEC.

Also gaining recognition, UA’s Dance program was recently ranked 15th in the nation, fourth in the South and first in the state by, who surveyed 322 public and private schools offering dance programs.  UA is home to the only accredited dance program in the state and our students regularly perform nationally and internationally.

Our School of Social Work’s online master’s program was named the top-ranked program of its kind by, based on factors that include graduation, acceptance, retention and enrollment rates. The same program was also ranked among the top 10 programs nationally by the experts of  Students note the program’s flexibility, which allows them to work full-time as they pursue a master’s degree.

Another source of pride for the Capstone is our partnership as a founding member in a national effort to support minority women and girls interested in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.  The National Academic STEM Collaborative is a consortium of 19 institutions of higher education and nonprofit partners committed to improving STEM diversity in the nation’s colleges and universities.

In late September, we were pleased to welcome Bob Pierce as our new vice president for Advancement. Bob, who comes to us from the University of Southern Mississippi, is an experienced leader in university advancement who brings an outstanding record in fundraising as well as energy and enthusiasm to The University of Alabama.

Earlier today, we also announced that Linda Bonnin has been named vice president for strategic communications at the University. Linda brings a strongly creative approach to problem-solving, a talent for team-building and an outstanding record of success in marketing and promotion, and we are excited that she is joining our team.

The annual Beat Auburn Beat Hunger drive was announced this past Monday and will run through Friday, Nov. 20. Started in 1994, Beat Auburn Beat Hunger has collected more than 2 million pounds of food to help fight hunger and poverty in West Alabama.

Looking forward and in the coming weeks, we will launch our strategic planning process for charting our University’s course forward. This is an exciting endeavor for all of our campus and I have asked Dr. Kevin Whitaker to work closely with me and our campus to lead this effort. We will focus on the mission, vision and objectives for our national flagship university and strategies for how we achieve these aspirations. Our plan will capture a rich discussion that will occur across campus over the coming months, guiding us for even greater achievements in the coming years. Since our campus and Dr. Whitaker will be focused on the elements necessary to produce a strong, deliberate and implementable strategic plan, we will look to begin our search for the permanent provost in the summer of 2016.

In closing, I am thrilled to be serving again at The University of Alabama, and I want to thank everyone for the gracious welcome extended to Susan and me. We are off to an excellent start for the fall semester. The positive outlook on campus is palpable, and I’m excited about the marvelous future that is ahead of us. Roll Tide and enjoy Homecoming 2015!


Start of fall semester update

Dear students, faculty and staff:

Welcome to The University of Alabama!  I hope you are as excited as I am about the start of a new year and all the opportunities we can look forward to as individuals and as a community.  The Capstone is a truly special place that is characterized by a deep commitment to excellence in everything we do. You will experience that commitment in every aspect of your college experience – in classrooms and labs, residence halls and recreation centers, clubs and organizations, community service projects and athletic events.

The coming academic year will offer many opportunities for learning and exploration, personally and professionally, and I encourage you to take advantage of all the resources available to help you thrive.  Especially for our students, Get on Board Day will help you find organizations that meet your specific needs and interests, and the Week of Welcome is a great way for our freshmen and transfer students to meet new friends and learn about campus traditions.

One of our highest priorities is to make sure that UA is a welcoming and inclusive campus for our students, faculty, staff, visitors and alumni. I encourage you to become familiar with the Capstone Creed, and to find ways each day to demonstrate your loyalty to our shared values.

During the coming year we will celebrate many milestones and successes together. Even as we adjust to new leadership, new students, new faculty and staff, and new buildings and facilities, our priorities will not change.  As the state’s flagship university, we will continue to serve our students, our communities, our state and the nation through outstanding teachingresearch that matters, and service that strengthens our communities. We will continue to make a positive difference in the lives we touch every day, and we will continue to focus on creating and sustaining an environment that encourages all members of the UA family to fulfill their highest potential.

Thank you for your unwavering commitment to The University of Alabama. Welcome to the UA family, and Roll Tide!

Stuart R. Bell

P.S. I enjoyed meeting some of our RAs, volunteers and new students and their families on Move-In Day at Presidential.